Press: Solo Exhibition ‘Das Experiment’. Secession, Vienna 2001
By Delphine Bedel
In the frame of the exhibition program ‘Das Experiment’ in the Secession, I was invited for a one-month residency in Vienna to make a project about the city. In my work I am investigating how a city is developing as a theme park trough tourism, urban planning, shopping, free time or architecture, becoming a factor of social exclusion through, among others the privatization of public space or the medias promoting ‘post-teenager’ attitudes, physical performance and entertainment as a way of life. What is then the possibility of encounter and experience in the ‘Scripted spaces’ as described by Norman M. Klein’, ‘a space were architecture is used to tell a story and the visitor becomes the central character’? or when ‘shopping is arguably the last remaining form of public activity’ (Christa Kamleithner).
An Austrian architect Viktor Gruen, who immigrated to the States in 1938, developed the idea of shopping mall. He designed the first ‘Shopping center’ Northland in Detroit in the1950’s, with commercial and cultural places, taking its roots on the model of Vienna’s city center. He later developed the idea of ‘Suburban mall’. In the recent years, Vienna has developed fast in the center and the periphery, with new shopping and entertainment center (Gazometer) and cultural area (Museum Quartier), housing projects, Multiplex-cinemas, etc. Together with Copenhagen, Vienna is one of the few cities in Europe with a permanent amusement park for more then a century, the Prater that became part of the daily culture and urban imaginary.
Taking as a starting point the social imaginary I have from Vienna build through literature, politics, films, electronic music, I organized for a month walks trough the city together with people I meet, artists, journalists, architects, musicians, as a sort of Situationist ‘derives’. What is relevant or not to see, who is a reliable narrator, how to approach this place and the political situation? With a map, recording instruments, I gathered visual and sound material, stories, impressions that will be processed in different forms in collaboration with some of the people I met.
The two videos ‘Aussicht’ and ‘Extasy’ have been filmed in the Donaturm (the TV tower with a panoramic turning restaurant) and the Prater, two well know amusement park, referring to different movements where one’s body is moved in search of a visual and physical ‘kick’. The image attends to restore, transcribe that ‘experience’ to the viewer.
The sound piece ‘Mindless beauty’ is a mix of sounds recorded in the city, in Prater, electronic music and computer games, and produced with two Viennese DJ’s. It gives the feeling of ‘playful ambient’.
Part the photographic investigation is displayed in the publication, were the city is perceived as an alternative form of literature. The cover presents a landscape of the bridge that leads to the new area of city development on the other side of the Danube, next to UNO City. This bridge also connects the two locations where I have been filming. Visitors can take away a poster with the text ‘Keine Ruhetag’ (no day off).
On the opening night I invited Herbert Weixelbaum to perform. He is a composer from the electronic scene, making music only with two Game Boys and sound processors, converting a mass entertainment to a sensory experience.